How to Cheer for A Bad Team

I’m Rex Libris. You may remember me from such articles as Calgarian Nights:1001 steps to rebuild your franchise and Jay Feaster: Communist Threat from Within! I’ve been asked to speak to you today about something I’m sure
you’re all worried about: how to cheer for a bad sports team.

you’re like me you’ve probably spent time recently cheering for a bad sports
team, watching them insult the game with their very presence and humiliate your
once-proud metropolis as they plumb the depths of ineptitude through what
seems like a soul-crushingly eternal exercise in futility.

tried to stay loyal, and have even begun to bolster your flagging fandom by
taking a greater interest in farm teams, drafted prospects, development coaches,
perhaps you’ve even strayed so far as to explore adopting an NCAA or USHL team.

be warned, the perils of cheering for a bad team are almost incalculable. Here’s

1. Advanced Analytics

are those who have forsaken common decency and good Canadian values to
lead lives of dissolute turpitude becoming slavish devotees to the cruel
mistress that is Advanced Analytics and her streetwise data-pushers.

are dark and dangerous places that can lead to a life of debauchery,
delinquency and statistical regression theory. Many young men have given up on
the traditional, good clean fun of yelling rambling obscenities at players from
the stands based on vague impressions formed in an alcoholic fog. These fine
young men became seduced by the desire to pursue a more objective, rational,
and sober opinion of a player’s value to the team by looking at various on-ice metrics.

what a wasted generation of sporting fans who have fallen prey to sites like
Extra Skater and their pornographic Fenwick charts.

what can you do to arm yourself against the pitfalls of cheering for a bad

I’m here to tell you that Modern Science has come to the rescue! Researchers
working at some of the finest laboratories in Wisconsin have discovered that
bad sports teams have a surprisingly high incidence of bad players on them.

an advanced algorithm and other things I prefer not to try and understand,
these researchers have come up with a way of ranking these players, commonly
referred to as “bums”, with a score named the Cherry score and which provides a
ratio labelled bum/60 which can be conveniently plotted on the gritchart.

these are dangerously close to Advanced Stats and therefore should only be
accessed under the supervision of a trained professional. Or in my case, a bookie.

of cheering for a bad team is to carefully intertwine all of your emotional
connections with the organization with expertly crafted illusions. Take
nicknames for instance. A terrible player with a great nickname is easy to
cheer for, once you cloud your senses with nostalgia, incoherent arguments about
potential, and malt liquor.

are a long-cherished tradition within the sporting community. Nothing can help heal
the wound of the desperate humiliation of being a fan of a bad team than to have
a collection of players with terrific nicknames.

from Mickey Mantle to Cal Clutterbuck, there have been some hilariously
creative nicknames for professional athletes. You and your friends can try to
come up with some new nicknames for your favourite players, the coach, even the
training staff and play by play announcers. Hours of fun await!

world wide web can be a large and frightening place, but it doesn’t need to be.
Why I’m earning $9000 a day working from my home! Find out how by sending me
$9000 today. Please?

I digress…there are many wholesome and creative ways to celebrate your love
for your team’s players despite their having only a passing resemblance to
professional athletes.

can create a video homage to your team using a popular song and some clips of
their spirited play or perhaps a collection of highlights from one of your
favourite exciting prospects. 

you could elevate one of your prospects to near-legendary proportions before
they even play an NHL game. Pick a player who is removed from immediate view
and whose talents play well in small sample sizes and video clips, then
mythologize the living daylights out of them.

is a surefire way to guarantee that when that player arrives at the NHL they
will live up to fan expectations, certainly the alternative is unconceivable.

Mr. Libris, I hear you say, why don’t I just pursue another hobby, or maybe
learn another language?

seriously though, you can’t leave and we both know that. When the team is so
bad that fans are beginning to sing dirges instead of the national anthem and they
raise their hands in the stands not to do the wave but surrender, the only
logical thing to do here is to delve further into the neurotic and
self-destructive behaviour that made you a fan in the first place.

Being a fan of a bad team means finding the bright spots in a season when there are none to be found. Failing that, use all of your mental faculties to identify a scapegoat or conspiracy.

are positives to cheering for a bad team. Tickets are easy to come by. You can
find a great deal on those team jerseys that were once so expensive. Hideously
disfigured and afraid to show your face in public for fear that even stray dogs
would wretch at the sight of you? Nobody will think twice about your wearing a
paper bag to the game!

team has entered what experts call “a rebuild” and the Big Dictionary
of Fancy English Words defines a rebuild as an experience not
unlike a high-colonic – extremely uncomfortable and embarrassing, often appearing
to last longer than it really does and usually ending in an abundance of excrement.

rebuild only appears to go on forever, but in reality it takes only the better
part of your natural life cycle. In the blink of a geological eye your team
will have amassed enough talent and prospects to become a team of
unimpeachably-average means.

that? Your dignity?

my young friend. If you had any dignity you wouldn’t be spending as much
time as we both know you do scouring hockey websites on the internet.

    • Matty Franchise Jr

      Beautiful commentary young man, thoroughly enjoyed getting into the mindset of someone forced to be creative in order to enjoy awful hockey. There must be a way to incorporate a bingo game into this somehow!?

    • RexLibris

      Love MST3K.

      Watching Oilers games with those guys would be worth the price of admission.

      Just one question…

      almost brought back some memories

      What stopped you?

  • beloch


    When does Calgary start its rebuild?

    the average life expectancy of a top 6 forward is to age 35-36.
    a player is drafted at 17 and a chance to be in the NHL at 36. that would be a great career range.

    You can largely break up that period of time into 3 segments.

    18-23 yr(6yr) the developing young player.
    24-30 the stable veteran player.
    31 to 36 a player on the decline.

    Some players will extend but a fair range.

    Lets look at Calgary’s top 10 scoring forwards.

    1. Hudler (30)69gm 16G 33 A 2 yr on contract
    2. Camalerri (31)59gm 24G 16A UFA
    3. Backlund (25)75gm 18G 21A 1 yr to RFA
    4. Monahan (19)69gm 20G 12A 2yr on ELC
    5. Stajan (30)60gm 13G 18A 4yr on contact
    6. Colburne (23)74gm 10G 17A RFA
    7. Glencross (31)32gm 10g 11A 1 yr
    8. Byron (24)45gm 7G 13A RFA
    9. D. jones (29)48gm 9G 8A 3 yr
    10. Bouma (25) 72gm 5g 10A RFA

    Only 1 forward in the 1st 1/3rd of his career.
    5 who are in the declining years of the career.

    Giordano (30)58gm 13G 32A 2 yr
    Brodie (23) 76gm 4G 26A 1 yr
    Russell (26) 62gm 6g 21A 2 yr
    Wideman (xx)46gm 4G 17A 3 yr
    Smid (27) 56gm 1G 5A 3 yr

    this is not a rebuilding team!
    this is a bad veteran team
    the next 2 years years the potential to loose Hudler; Camalerri; Glencross; Backlund (takes 1 yr extension); Bouma (if takes 2 yr extension)

    It would push them into a Rebuild!

    • mattyc

      I think some of that is fair commentary. You build a team so the core peaks at around the same time (25-30 ish).

      Top 6 fwds:

      Monahan, Backlund, Cammalleri, Glencross, Hudler

      yes, I’m aware that we only (charitably) have 5 top 6 fwds…

      Top 4 D:

      Giordano, Brodie, Russell, Wideman

      In these groups, only Backlund, Monahan, Brodie and Russell will still be on the right side of the development curve in 2-3 years.

      Given that, I’d argue a few things:

      1. It’s clear this time isn’t winning anything now, (we have unproven goaltending and a pretty poor fwd group), so by definition they are building towards competing later

      2. Given 1., the rebuild will probably end up wasting the last couple peak seasons of Giordano, Cammalleri and Wideman.

      3. Given 2., it’s probably not a bad idea to try to bridge the gap and remain competitive since we have *some* high end talent. This doesn’t have to come at the expense of bringing in prospects and developing them, it just should hopefully mean we aren’t relying on unproven prospects to come in and play meaningful minutes. Realistically, imo this should always be the goal. If a player comes in and forces his way into meaningful minutes (like Brodie has done) then great, but you don’t start the season expecting them to be there, and then scramble to fill the gap once it’s too late (that’s where you give up draft picks etc.).

    • RexLibris

      Hudler, Cammalleri, Stajan, Glencross and Wideman were all players brought in during the late Sutter/Feaster era when the goal was to compete immediately.

      Backlund, Brodie and Bouma were drafted and developed during that same period and Monahan and Colborne are the recent additions.

      Granted, this roster looks like one in transition, but when even the GM, oops, I meant El Presidente De Operaciones De Hockey calls it a rebuild, I think it is a rebuild.

      I’ve said this many, many times before but all rebuilds are individual events and every single one is different.

      No two are the same.

      Nor are the results.

      So, the Flames approach this rebuild with two major cashable assets in Iginla and Bouwmeester. The next year they have Cammalleri. The following year it looks like maybe Glencross or even Hudler could be moved again for more assets.

      They are set up nicely if they want to sell off veterans to simultaneously make roster room for upcoming young players and add assets like prospects or picks to continue to stock a development system.

      None of these details necessarily preclude us from calling the experience of this team over the next three years a “rebuild”.

      The Kings rebuilt but only once did they pick higher than 4th overall (Doughty, 2nd overall) and even the 4th overall pick they traded up to get (Hickey, kind of a swing and a miss there). Does that mean they weren’t rebuilding because they were never bad enough to sit at the front of the class on draft day? No.

      The Flames are the Flames, betwixt and between, but certainly less of a bad veteran team than they were the previous two or three seasons.

  • beloch

    I think an important part of following hockey, or any pursuit really, is to enjoy the journey for itself rather than constantly looking towards the destination. If your only definition of success is Stanley cups then you’re probably not going to enjoy yourself all that much. Even if your team does eventually win the cup, it will be so hyped up in your mind that the reality will likely underwhelm.

    So what should we stop to appreciate in the Hockey journey? For Flames fans, this is the year of the underdog. In truth the Flames are pretty bad right now, but rarely as bad as they’re supposed to be. The consistently close finishes keep us on the edge of our seats and it really is a great feeling when your scrappy underdog team takes down teams they’re not supposed to, which happens to be practically everyone this year. Humiliations and blowouts have been mercifully rare, and the Flames have even dished out a couple! Another small pleasure is to see the success of players who, similar to the team, weren’t really supposed to have a chance in the NHL. Take Paul Byron, for example.

    Ultimately, Burke, Hartley, et al are probably not sitting in their offices reading flamesnation for ways to fix the team. They have access to far better raw stats and stats guys who are paid full-time to make sense of them. They’ve got old-school hockey guys too who are probably right more often than stats-fiends would care to admit! So why do we bother? Personally, I find it fun to try to understand a complex, organic system like a hockey team and try to tease some tiny amount of predictive power out of the paucity of quality statistics that are available to us. I’m not particularly great at it, but who cares if I suck?

    You’re probably wasting your time if you’re reading FN because you only care about winning the cup and want to know when that will be.

    As for the Oilers… Man. Pretty much nothing I just said about the Flames’ journey applies to them this year. It’s been nothing but tough sledding with poo-filled snowpants! If the Oilers were the only team I followed I’d probably be taking up curling right about now. Seriously, you’d have to be a senile, half-blind poet high on smack to tease any sort of silver-lining out of the season the Oilers have been having.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    Excellent writing Rex, but what’s with the Mr. Libris stuff?

    Question for FN: why is the ON banner behind the FN Logo. We did win the last game right?

  • RedMan

    Rex, it is plain to se that this came straight from the heart man. :'(

    thanks, was fun with a little bit of squeemish thrown in for the frightening resemblance to real life.


    • Flames are 3 points in the clear for 4th overall pick with 6 games remaining.
      They can’t be caught as long as they don’t win more than one game and no loser points.

      They have a 68.7% chance of remaining at the 4 spot after the lottery and a 10.7% chance of the number one overall pick.

      Let’s give the kids from Abby a shot…..